1) Provide the legal definition of the occupation, including the existing legal scope of practice, where appropriate.
Michigan law requires an occupational license for individuals who want to sell and perform roofing services. It falls under the state’s “residential maintenance and alteration contractor” license.[*] The law specifies the fees and training mandates, but does provide a definition of the specific occupation. The statute notes that a person can do “incidental and supplemental” work without needing a license and that the licensing requirement does not apply to projects valued under $600, counting the costs of labor and materials.
2) How many people are licensed in this occupation in Michigan and how has this changed over the years? Does the law appear to be enforced?
According to information provided by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, there were 488 active individual roofer licenses and 180 roofing company licenses in Michigan in 2018. Both of these have been on a steady decline, down from 758 individuals and 246 companies in 2009. In other words, there are 36% fewer individual roofers and 27% fewer roofing companies licensed by the state of Michigan than a decade ago.
The licensure law for residential builders and contractors does appear to be routinely enforced, however. From Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019, there were 52 different Occupational License Disciplinary Action Reports and more than a dozen cease and desist orders issued by LARA for licensed builders and contractors. It is unknown how many of these were issued to licensed roofers, however.
3) How many other states license this occupation? If possible, find data for state licensure of the occupation nationwide for the previous 10 years.
There are 28 states that require licensure for roofers, specific either to the trade or under a general contractor license. Often, these license requirements are only for work above a certain minimum cost per project, like in Michigan. This allows unlicensed roofers to perform lower cost jobs without the need for a state license. In addition, some states, while not requiring a license, regulate the profession through a mandatory registration process.
4) Compare the licensing requirements to a sample of requirements from other states that also license the occupation.
Current licensing requirements include:
- Successfully complete 60 hours of approved education, including at least six hours in specified courses, such as business management, marketing and project management;
- Submit an application and pay corresponding fee;
- Be of good moral character; and
- Once all other requirements are met, pass an examination.
An online search of training providers shows that the cost of the completing the educational courses ranges from $350 to $400. The application fee is $195 and the examination fee is $111, according to LARA. License renewal is every three years and costs about $150. The state of Michigan requires 21 credit hours of continuing education for the first two renewal cycles — six years — and three hours of continuing education each cycle thereafter.
A sample of three states requiring licensing for roofers is found below:
California: Roofing contractors must be licensed on projects worth more than $500. To attain a license, you must pass an exam and pay an application fee, which cost a combined $330. However, before one applies, a person needs to show that for at least four years of the previous 10 years they worked in a related construction role, such as a journeyman, foreman, supervisor or contractor. The initial license fee is $200 and there is an additional fingerprinting fee of $49. The license renewal fee is $400 every two years. A roofing contractor must also purchase a $15,000 surety bond in order to be licensed.
Florida: To become a licensed roofer, an applicant needs to pass a two-part examination and pay an application fee of either $149 or $249, depending on the time of year when the application is submitted. To be eligible for the examination, a person must show evidence of four years of relevant work experience or construction-related education, or a combination of the two. Other requirements include providing a recent credit report and financial statement, as well as purchasing a general liability insurance policy of at least $100,000 and $25,000 for property damage. In addition, 14 hours of education requirements are required to be completed every two years. Renewal is every two years, costing $209.
Illinois: There are three different licenses for roofers: residential; commercial and industrial; and residential, commercial and industrial. The test and license fees are $226. The application fee is $125 for all three types, and a renewal, required every two years, also costs $125. Bonding requirements are $10,000 for the first two licenses and $25,000 for the third. Liability insurance of $250,000 for property damage and $500,000 for personal injury is also required.
5) Inquire of the state licensing board about the volume and type of health or safety complaints filed by consumers in relation to the occupation in question.
For roofing contractors, there were no health and safety violations filed by consumers over a recent six-month period, according to information requests made of LARA. There were disciplinary actions taken against other types of builders — presumably as a result of consumer complaints — but it is not possible to say how many of these might be related to roofing. Most individuals and businesses were disciplined for abandonment, fraud or failing to keep proper records, rather than anything that directly harms public safety.
6) Are there similar occupations that have significantly different licensing requirements?
Among maintenance and alteration contractors in Michigan, there are several other similar jobs which do not require a license, including drywall and plaster installers, carpeting and vinyl floorers, and fence and awning builders.
7) Is there a difference in liability insurance costs between unlicensed occupations and licensed ones?
According to an insurance industry representative whose agency writes policies in a number of states, the question of whether or not a roofer is licensed is not considered when liability insurance is available to the roofer. Therefore, there does not appear to be a difference in liability insurance premiums charged between licensed and unlicensed roofers in the insurance industry.
[*] MCL § 339.2404(3). An individual could also legally work as a roofer with a residential builder’s license, which covers the “erection, construction, replacement, repair, alteration, or an addition to, subtraction from, improvement, wrecking of, or demolition of, a residential structure.” MCL § 339.2401(a).